Friday, August 26, 2011

New Birds at Bog

As the summer winds down the population of birds at the bog is changing. Gone are the hordes of grackles and blackbirds. New birds are showing up even as the bog has gone mostly silent. From the end of July to the middle of August I was unable to visit the bog on a regular basis. However, since August 12th I have been there 4 times. 

With the off and on rain we have had the bog is currently full of water. Cattails and reeds are tall and green and in a few places purple loosestife dots the landscape. On August 12th I saw my first Black-crowned Night Herons at the bog. Since then I have counted one on each subsequent visit. Wednesday afternoon I walked down to the bog once again. It was amazingly calm and quiet. There were birds there, but I had to scan the trees, sky and water for them. Some birds I never would have seen if they weren't in motion. Chimney swifts and swallows cut through the sky. Mallards and Wood Ducks napped in the shallows or on downed limbs and tree trunks. I spotted a Great Blue Heron across the bog stealthily hunting in the shallows. A few phoebes flitted around close to the water hunting insects, pumping their tails as they alighted on their perches. 

At the north end of the bog I was delighted to spot a pair of Eastern bluebirds. A lone crow drifted lazily overhead while a Turkey Vulture tilted on large and dark wings. I was about to finish my count and leave when suddenly I noticed a larger bird heading straight for me across the bog flying in an undulating line. As I raised my bins to my eyes it gave its rattling cry. I tired to drop my bins and raise my camera for a shot but as the bird neared me it banked to the north and disappeared in the trees. I have been looking for a Belted Kingfisher here all summer and now I finally saw one! Species number 60 for the bog! 

Turning now I started walking along the pine-treed edge towards home stopping now and then to peek inbetween the trees in case there was anything else new to see. As I neared the south end of the swamp I climbed over the guardrail to for one last look. After scanning the water's edge one last time I looked up. There overhead a medium sized bird of prey flew, its belly and wings barred with gray, its wings pointed, its tail straight and square. My first impression made me gasp aloud. A Peregrine Falcon! This time I did raise my camera and try to get a shot. The bird glided and flapped and to my amazement, circled around and made one more pass over the bog before disappearing beyond the horizon. A Peregrine Falcon! I could not believe it! I NEVER expected that! Fall migration has begun. What a treat that was. Peregrine Falcon is species number 61 for the bog. Who knows what other species will show up over the course of the next few weeks. I did my very first bird count at the bog on September 30, 2010. I was there for 30 minutes and counted 12 species on that day.  At that time there were all kinds of warblers and sparrows migrating through. I hope the same will be true this year and I hope that I can identify the warblers in their fall plumages. I plan on taking the camera with me on a regular basis for now, because you never know what you will see. And, with Hurricane Irene on the way, I am wondering what birds will be there after the storm. 

BTW, though I had my camera with me, I did not get any good bird shots on this day. All the birds were too far in the distance for any good shots, though I did try. 

Here is the list of birds seen at the bog on August 24, 2011

  1. Mallard, 8
  2. Wood duck, 6
  3. Great Blue Heron, 1
  4. Black-crowned Night heron, 1
  5. Turkey Vulture, 2
  6. Red-tailed hawk, 1
  7. Peregrine Falcon, 1
  8. Ring-billed gull, 1
  9. Mourning dove, 12
  10. Chimney Swift, 10
  11. Belted Kingfisher, 1
  12. Northern flicker, 1
  13. Eastern Phoebe, 4
  14. Eastern Kingbird, 1
  15. Blue Jay, 1
  16. American Crow, 1
  17. Tree Swallow, 12
  18. Eastern bluebird, 2
  19. European Starling, 25
  20. cedar Waxwing, 4
  21. Song sparrow, 1
  22. Housefinch, 3
  23. American goldfinch, 2
Update 8-26-11: Went back to the bog this morning to count birds before the impending storm. Saw 3 new species for the bog and some are new to my Massachusetts Life List! I saw a flock of cormorants rise up in a tattered flock from beyond the eastern horizon. Then, as they circled and got organized they finally headed west and flew right over my head! I watched an immature Red-tailed hawk chasing ducks unsuccessfully for about an hour, and I saw my first Kestrel for the bog and for Massachusetts! Also, I did not know until I checked my eBird lists but the Kingfisher I saw the other day was a first for Massachusetts also! Hope to post an update with photos later. Now it's off to the store to buy a flashlight and batteries and maybe a bag of ice. I forgot to pick these up yesterday. 


  1. Hi - I used to live in a part of the world - Cumbria in the UK - where you would see PF's a little more often than so places - but they were always a great bird to see - I can understand why you would have got excited!

    Cheers Stewart M - Australia.

  2. Bogs are my favorite habitat! I was at one on the Cape Breton coast a couple of days ago watching the Whimbrels for hours. I found the most interesting great horned owl pellet atop a large boulder while I was exploring. It contained both big black feet of a very large sea bird - must have been one hungry owl to eat the whole thing like that! The gannets were feeding just off the shoreline. Congrats on the peregrin falcon. I'd be doing cartwheels! ~karen

  3. Hi Katie..Impressive list you have here...
    I had a gang of Grackles just yesterday ..haven't seen them all summer..I guess they are on the more !!!

    I wonder whats birds do in a hurricane....hmmmm...where do they hide out??
    I do know that the Gulls usually come inland!

    Hope your prepared for whatever and e safe..

  4. Stewert, I have seen Peregrines out west before but this is my first sighting in the east!

    KaHolly, that sounds like a delightful day! I do not walk out into my bog but enjoy it from the edge. I'm a wimp. Don't want to get my feet muddy!
    That owl pellet sounds interesting. I have been looking and listening for owls at the bog ever since I started counting there but so far, nothing!

    Grannie, g, I am trying to get prepared. I went back to the bog and counted birds again this morning just to see what was there before the impending storm. Added 3 more new species to the count! Hope to get another post up later!

  5. You've doubled you bog bird sightings. Yet I'm not surprised with your excellent skills.

    Please be careful and fill your bathtub and every container you own with water. Charge all batteries. Hang on tight.


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.